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Feb 21, 2012 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Report: Old Septic System At ANG Base Does Not Pose Threat

Feb 21, 2012 2:08 PM

A recently completed environmental assessment report has concluded that no additional remediation is necessary to remove pollutants near the site of the old septic systems once used by the Air National Guard base at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.

Completed by PEER Consultants PC in Knoxville, Tennessee, the report, dubbed the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP), has determined that the site in question, located near the southwest corner of the airport and along Old Riverhead Road, does not pose a health threat. The document also concludes that no further cleanup of the area is necessary.

Members of the public are invited to comment on the findings of the report during a special meeting scheduled for tonight, Thursday, February 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the meeting room of the Westhampton Free Library on Library Avenue in Westhampton Beach. A copy of the PRAP is now available at the library for review, and residents can submit their written opinions of the plan until Monday, March 5.

Prior to scheduling the hearing, the ANG submitted its final draft of the PRAP to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which signed off on the document.

According to the document, geologists have determined, following an examination of the soil and drinking water in the area over 14 years, that the groundwater near the former septic tanks is safe. The report concludes that quantities of silver found in subsurface soils and traces of copper discovered in nearby groundwater samples had not migrated and, therefore, do not pose a threat to humans.

Geologist Richard Stout, who is the project manager for Peer Consultants, explained that the two metals are present because someone, at some point, improperly disposed of a chemical down a drain.

“People are more educated now about medication disposal and that sort of thing, so it doesn’t happen as much,” Mr. Stout added.

Other contaminants left over from fuel combustion were also found in the area, with negligible levels unearthed in 2005, according to the report.

The report states that environmental studies of the land, dubbed Site 8, had been conducted between 1991 and 2005. During remedial action conducted in 2002, the base’s septic system, which could have posed a pollution threat at the time, was “either removed or abandoned,” according to the document.

Officials with Peer Consultants conducted an additional investigation of the site in 2005, at which point they closed the case and began preparing drafts of the PRAP. Mr. Stout said the process of preparing the report and submitting it for review has taken several years.

ANG officials initiated the cleanup as part of their environmental restoration program. Mr. Stout said that, at this time, the amount of contaminants found at Site 8 are well below the levels that would have required remediation. He also said that officials will explain the report during tonight’s informational meeting.

“By law, the public has input into the process,” Mr. Stout said “At the public meeting we compile comments and review them, answering those questions in the responsiveness summary.”

That summary will then be turned over to both the ANG and DEC. If the public’s concerns have been addressed, the report will then be finalized.

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